COVID-19 Update, Sunday, March 22 - Childcare provision for key workers in schools and free school meals

Parents across Cardiff are being asked to keep their children at home - if they can - as new childcare arrangements for the children of key workers prepare to open in the city. 

In order to ensure the transmission of COVID-19 is slowed or halted, key workers are being told that school provision is only to be used once all other forms of child support have been exhausted. 

Cardiff schools will focus on delivering child-care arrangements for NHS staff, care workers and the emergency services only, in the first instance, when schools reopen on Monday, March 23. Provision in schools is for pupils aged 3-14. 

Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford, said today: "If your child can be kept at home your child should be kept at home. 

"If more than 20% of children turn up in our new childcare arrangements in schools, we won't have the impact from closing schools that we need to slow down the disease." 

Consequently, Cardiff Council is looking to strike a balance between reducing social transmission of the virus and supporting key workers who we will all rely on as the outbreak unfolds. 

This is why the council has decided to put its focus, in the first instance, on those key workers in the NHS, social care and the emergency services. 

This will give the authority a chance to assess how much childcare is required for those key workers who will be playing a major part in keeping us all safe. 

This approach may also allow us to add to the key worker groups later - if provision allows. We appreciate that this may be a point of issue for some parents, but we are asking them to understand that school provision is only to be used once all other forms of support have been exhausted. 

It's vitally important that we move to a scenario where as many schools as possible are closed to stop transmission of the virus. In light of expected demand Cardiff will be working towards creating a hub model in the next 2 weeks. This will allow us to close schools while ensuring that childcare needs can be met in fewer buildings and that resources and staffing are in place which follows the most up to date advice in terms of managing risk. 

The council requests, due to the risk of transmission, that parents do not drop children off at schools under the new arrangements if they have a cough and/or high temperature, or if anyone in their household has the symptoms of COVID-19. Please follow all the public health guidance on isolation requirements and social distancing. 

Childcare (pre-school)

As with advice for school aged children of key workers only a small minority of children should be attending childcare settings.  Due to crucial social-distancing requirements, this will mean spreading the provision over a large number of settings, but over time it may be necessary to consolidate provision in fewer locations.  

We are not asking settings to close, but we are recommending that they care only for those children that are the children of critical keyworkers or those who are classified as vulnerable.  The Welsh Government expects the majority of childcare settings (including Flying Start settings where the Local Authority requires this) to stay open in order to provide sufficient provision. 

Vulnerable groups

Schools are putting in place appropriate ways of keeping in touch and offering support based on need with all vulnerable children. 

Free School Meal Provision from Monday, March 23

If you child is currently eligible for a free school meal they will be able to collect a packed-lunch grab bag from their school on Monday from 12:00pm. 

If your child is currently provided with free home to school transport or they currently attend a Cardiff Special School they are able to collect their packed lunch grab bag from your local Primary School. 

We are producing around 13,000 bags on Monday. They will contain a cheese sandwich, crisps, water, fruit/raisins/veg bag. 

Unfortunately there will be no alternative and specific dietary requirements will not be catered for on Monday. Allergen information will be printed on the items/grab bag that is delivered. 

We understand that this system may not be suitable for some of our pupils, but we ask for your patience and your understanding. This plan had to be put together at great speed as we work through these unprecedented and challenging times. We hope to develop and adapt the service over the next few weeks. 

Parents are reminded that pupils will not be allowed to consume the lunch on site and when collecting from the school please be aware of the current guidance for social distancing.